Purslane a.k.a. Per-Per

The first time my mother mentioned ‘per- per’ to me, I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that it was a type of green that grew wild, and that her mother (my Nanny – and Nanny’s Armenian lady friends) would gather as much per – per as possible when it was in season. Per-per is a low-trailing plant with yellow flowers that grows with reckless abandon. These women, with their radar-like senses, knew just where to find it.

(Image from plant.photos.net)

Mom said per – per was mostly prepared as a salad or quickly sautéed it in olive oil with garlic, but warned that overcooking made it somewhat slimy.

What does purslane taste like? Mom said its taste is similar to spinach, with an herbal, lemony tang.  Personally, I wouldn’t know.

What Mom didn’t tell me was that purslane contains Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and is a good source of Vitamins A and C – plus a bunch of other nutrients. Who knew?

Don’t rush to your local grocery store to find purslane. You’re better off going to a farmer’s market or looking in a garden center where they sell potted flowers, herbs and vegetables – or if you find a packet of seeds (available on the internet), you can grow your own. It needs full sun, is generally drought tolerant and isn’t fussy about the soil’s condition.

Here’s a simple salad using purslane.

Purslane (Per – Per) Salad

1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled, chopped
2 cups purslane leaves, gently, but thoroughly, washed; pat dry
2 cups lettuce (your choice), washed, cut into bit-sized pieces
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 scallions, chopped

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground sumac, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Toss with the salad. Serve with pita chips, if desired.

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  1. liz June 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Love it! One of my favorite salads. Purslane grows like a weed and my mom will go pick it wherever she can find it during season. She makes fattoush with it. Similar to your recipe but add garlic!

    1. Robyn June 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      How lucky you are, Liz! Where, geographically, are you located, so others might might be able to find wild purslane, too?

    2. liz June 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

      We are in the Boston area.

    3. Robyn June 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Great, thanks!


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